On the occasion of the Norwegian Museum of Technology‘s 100th anniversary, the participatory exhibition TING was created, inviting visitors to explore and discuss the complex relationship between technology and democracy. Visitors pass through different zones while moving through the exhibition. The entrance shows illustrations of eight objects representing the technologies to be discussed in the upcoming TING debates, combined with contradictory quotes reflecting on the relationship between technology and democracy. Each visitor gets a basic wooden block, which, analogue to the digital pixel, becomes a haptic tool to trigger digital interactions within the exhibition and to cast their votes within the TING.
The first part of the exhibition establishes four iconic objects as historical case studies. Visitors discover the widely different perspectives and interpretations on how these technologies have played significant roles in both the development and destruction of democratic societies. It becomes clear that there is not just one meaning or truth. Technology is neither good, nor bad, nor is it neutral. The centrepiece of the exhibition is the grand amphitheater-like space of the TING. In its ancient form, the TING was a circular space where governing assemblies would put things up for discussion. In this exhibition, the TING has been transformed and reinvented in the form of a giant object theatre – a discursive social space where dramatic object displays and immersive and interactive media work hand in hand to facilitate a participatory experience where the visitor is at the centre.
Surrounding the TING table, a 25 metre wide and 5 metre high shelf displays 100 objects from the museum’s permanent collection and is simultaneously a 180° projection surface. Visitors explore the shelf with the interactive tablets or by placing the wooden cubes on the table, simultaneously bringing the objects to life and immersing themselves in the spirit and history of these technologies. Eight controversial objects are put up for discussion and voting at the TING. Each of these revolutionary technologies is introduced by a short film, narratively illustrating their past, current and future possible impacts on democracy and society. Visitors vote on five questions for each of the eight technologies. To place their vote, they use the wooden cubes or tablets. Voting results are translated to real-time generated graphics – and the moderator facilitates the group in discussing the outcome. Past results of previous sessions appear as a cumulatively growing landscape, which dynamically changes over the duration of the exhibition.